No Escape: My Young Years Under Hitler's Shadow


293 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 0-9731579-2-5
DDC 943.086'092




Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein, Distinguished Research Professor of History Emeritus,
York University, served as Director of the Canadian War Museum from 1998
to 2000. His latest works are Who Killed Canadian History?, Who Killed
the Canadian Military, and Hell’s Cor


This memoir of growing up under the Nazis was written by Edmontonian
John Koch. Born in Germany, Koch and his family were cool to the
National Socialists and more than cool to Hitler’s war. Koch is fair
enough to note that most Germans cheerfully followed their Fьhrer while
times were good, however, and the smiling photos of him in youth camps
and in the military suggest that he too went along to get along. Even
so, the accounts of fighting on the Eastern Front are graphic; so too is
Koch’s account of his (forced) participation in the killing of
concentration camp inmates. Fortunately for him, the author was taken
prisoner by the Americans, not the Soviets, and although his treatment
was rough, it became worse under the French. James Bacque has explored
the Allied treatment of German prisoners, and Koch’s account lends
this story some verisimilitude. Wounded in an explosion, Koch eventually
escaped from the POW camp, worked in the black market, made his way to
university, and then emigrated to Canada in 1954.

The story is long, the detail heavy. But Koch writes well, and his
self-published account is well worth reading.


Koch, W. John., “No Escape: My Young Years Under Hitler's Shadow,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 12, 2024,